The lesson in the classroom began with the striking of a Tibetan singing bowl to induce “mindful awareness.”
The fifth graders at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School in California closed their eyes and focused on their breathing, as they tried to imagine “loving kindness” on the playground.
And so the silliest story I’ve read in the New York Times in a long time begins.
Students at dozens of schools across the country are trying hard to be in the present moment. This is what is known as mindfulness training, in which stress-reducing techniques drawn from Buddhist meditation are wedged between reading and spelling tests. The children practice “gentle breaths and still bodies” to the sound of a Tibetan bowl reverberating at the start and finish of each lesson.
Susan Kaiser Greenland, the founder of the InnerKids Foundation, which trains schoolchildren and teachers in the Los Angeles area, calls mindfulness “the new ABC’s — learning and leading a balanced life.”
Hey! Here’s an idea can we actually teach kids the old ABC’s before we go into this. I promise that when public schools in this country are ranked number one in the world in the regular old ABC’s and Math I’ll be willing to discuss these precious extracurriculars.
By the way, anyone finding it ironic that the same people who took prayer out of schools are now desperate to find something to take its place –even prayer. But it can’t just be the same prayers their fathers and grandfathers said. It has to be “new” and “exotic.” GK Chesterton said that “When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.” Our public schools are proving him correct.
But wait, the article has proof that their method is working. An 11 year old boy said, “I was losing at baseball and I was about to throw a bat,” but his mindfulness exercises worked. See! The eleven year old got through recess without committing an assault. That breaks my old record of almost making it through homeroom.
One teacher anonymously grumbled that the program was “Cloud Nine-groovy-hippie-liberals bringing ‘enlightenment’ to inner city schools.” Kudos to the anonymous teacher.
But Angela Haick, the principal of Piedmont Avenue insisted that, “If we can help children slow down and think…they have the answers within themselves.”
Quick question, If these answers are magically in their heads who would have put them there? Perhaps the same God you threw out of school all those years ago.
One student defined mindfulness as “not hitting someone in the mouth.” Excellent!Asked their reactions to the sounds of the singing bowl, a third grader wrote that it made her feel “calm, like something on Oprah.” Wonderful!
Diana Winston, the director of mindfulness education at the U.C.L.A. center said the research thus far was “inconclusive.” (Which actually means that they haven’t found a test yet that shows it works so we’ll just keep calling it ‘inconclusive.’)